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tail. In winter the black patch on the breast becomes much smaller, and the back turns grey.

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][merged small]

The Pied Wagtail is found in all parts of the British islands, subject to a partial migration, on the approach of winter, towards the more southern counties. On the continent it seems confined to Sweden and Norway, being replaced in the central and more temperate parts by a species closely resembling it, Motacilla alba, (LINN.) The eminent zoologist after whom our species has been named, thus describes its manners, in his “ British Birds :" “It is ever in motion, running with facility by a rapid succession of steps in pursuit of its insect-food, moving from place to place by short undulating flights, uttering a cheerful chirping note while on the wing, alighting again on the ground with a sylph-like buoyancy, and a graceful fanning motion of the tail, from which it derives its name. It frequents the vicinity of ponds and streams, moist pastures, and the grass-plots of pleasure grounds; may be frequently seen wading in shallow water, seeking for various aquatic insects on their larvæ; and a portion of a letter sent me lately by W. Rayner, Esq., of Uxbridge, who keeps a variety of birds in a large aviary near his parlour-window, for the pleasure of observing their habits, seems to prove that partiality to other prey, besides aquatic insects, has some influence on the constant visits of Wagtails to water. I had also during the summer and autumn of 1837 several Wagtails, the Pied and the Yellow, both of which were very expert in catching and feeding on minnows which were in a fountain in the centre of the aviary. These birds hover over the water, and, as they skim the surface, catch the minnow as it approaches the top of the water, in the most dexterous manner; and I was much surprised at the wariness and cunning of some Blackbirds and Thrushes, in watching the Wagtails catch the

minnows, and immediately seizing the prize for their own dinner.”

The nest of this elegant little bird is commonly constructed of root-fibres or slender twigs, lined with hair, fine grass, and a few feathers; it is generally in the vicinity of water, at a low elevation, rarely on the ground, and in whatever situation is almost always strengthened against some firm support, as a ledge of rock, a bank, the trunk of a tree, or a wall. A hole in a wall, a crevice among loose stones, the interstices of a wood-pile or faggot-stack, the thatch of a cart-shed, or a hay-rick,—these all chosen occasionally; and Mr. Jesse has mentioned in his “Gleanings,” the nest of a Wagtail built in one of the workshops of a manufactory at Taunton, amidst the incessant din of braziers who occupied the apartment. It was built near the wheel of a lathe which revolved within a foot of it, and here the bird hatched four young ones. She was perfectly familiar with the well-known faces of the workmen, and flew in and out without fear of them ; but if a stranger entered, or any other persons belonging to the same factory, but not to what may be called her shop, she quitted her nest instantly, and returned not till they were gone. The male, however, had less confidence, and would not come into the room, but brought the usual supplies of food to a certain spot on the roof, whence it was brought in to the nest by his mate.

* Yarrell's Brit. Birds, i. 398.

FAMILY II. TURDIDÆ.

(Thrushes.) The average size of the birds of this Family is considerably superior to that of the Warblers; though the one merges into the other by insensible gradations. The beak is as long as the head, compressed at the sides; the upper mandible arched to the tip, which is not abruptly hooked; the notch is well-marked but not accompanied by a tooth; the gape furnished with bristles. The feet are long, with curved claws. The food on which the Thrushes subsist is less restricted than that of the Warblers; for besides insects and their caterpillars, snails, slugs, earthworms, &c., they feed largely on pulpy and farinaceous berries of many sorts. Many of the species are gregarious during the winter, and some through the whole year. The colours are for the most part sombre, often chaste and elegantly arranged; various shades of olive are the most prevalent hues, very frequently taking the form of spots running in chains, upon the breast and under parts. Exceptions to this subdued character of coloration are not, however, wanting in this extensive Family: thus the Orioles are distinguished for their fine contrasts of rich black and golden yellow; and the Breves (Pitta, Temm.) for their dazzling blues and greens, while some of the African Thrushes shine in the metallic lustre of burnished steel.

The Turdidæ are found in all parts of the world; the species are very numerous, and a great number are eminent as song-birds.

Genus Turdus. (Linn.) This extensive genus, which restricted as it now is, comprises nearly a hundred and twenty species, is distinguished by having the beak slightly arched from the base to the tip, the notch distinct, and the gape set with weak and fine hairs; the wings are somewhat lengthened, the first quill so short as to be almost rudimentary, the third and fourth longest; the tail of moderate length and breadth; the feet formed for walking as well as perching on trees.

The Thrushes are, to a considerable extent, migratory in their habits, flocks frequently removing from one district of country to another, even in those climates, where the seasons are sufficiently equable to allow of their remaining without inconvenience from the weather. Thus not only do the European species resort to the more temperate parts during winter, and on the approach of suinmer assemble in great numbers, and return to the more northern regions, but some of the American species are continually roving about in flocks, “ innumerable thousands,” migrating from one region to another through the whole winter. Their food is very varied ; a great portion of it is sought upon the ground, and their feet are admirably formed for walking over the places whither they chiefly resort for this purpose. In winter the various species of slugs and snails, with earthworms and grubs, that are found in open weather in moist woods and meadows, constitute their principal support; but during frosts they subsist on various berries and other

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